Protect Hearing Without Overheating Your Head.
Oleg Volk 08.23.16
Electronic ear plugs bridge the gap between the regular disposable foamies and the high-tech amplified muffs. Two variations exist, the more expensive custom molded and the cheaper version with interchangeable foam and rubber ear plugs. GSP15 I tried is the less expensive variety that can be upgraded to custom shape if desired. Less expensive is still about $300 retail, similar to high quality muffs. A 10% discount is offered to AllOUtdoor readers at Etymotic.com using code EHP10TP. Why go with the plugs over muffs? Less weight and more ventilation.
GSP15 weighs 1.8oz for the pair, compared to 1.2 to 1.8lb for most amplified muffs. Unlike muffs, ear plugs do not press on the ear pieces of safety glasses. Plugs also allow better cheek weld with rifle stocks than most muffs. In hot weather, enclosing muffs prevent proper cooling of the head, drastically reducing the endurance of the shooter. Compared to the passive foam ear plugs, they allow the retention of situational awareness and normal tone conversation with others at the range.
The box contains a clamshell carry case, lanyard, a wide selection of silicone and foam tips, a dozen #10 hearing aid batteries, spare internal filters, and a cleaning brush. The device is intended to last indefinitely with proper maintenance. Battery installation is simple and doesn’t require delicate handling. Each battery activates when installed and lasts about a day and a half of continuous use, or about a week idle (with the battery drawer pulled out). At about 60 cents per pair, that’s a surmountable expense.
The plugs aren’t flush with the ear when in use, but I haven’t had them snag on anything. The weight is minimal and it’s easy to forget that they are inserted. Noise reduction is rated at 25db, which seems accurate. Outdoors, the amplified noise of bullet impact at 50 yards was louder than the report of .22 rifle or .357 carbine. With 17WSM rifle equipped with a muzzle brake, the reflected report echoing off trees about 25 yards distant was also louder than the muzzle blast. With the amplification, normal conversation can be carried out to about 15 yards. The plugs also did a good job of muffling continuous noise, like lawnmower engines.
Volume is set automatically, and the regulator does an excellent job. For use indoors or with louder firearms (such as high power rifles with aggressive muzzle brakes), I would recommend pairing these up with a set of amplified muffs to get additional protection. Whenever doubling up is not needed, GSP15 provides sufficient protection, clear amplification, and comfortable wear–especially in the summer heat!